TERRE HAUTE —
Freshman women’s college basketball players sparked Saint Mary-of-the-Woods and Rose-Hulman on Wednesday in Hulbert Arena.
Playing her first major minutes of the season, Rose-Hulman guard Kristen Belyea was the clutch shooter for the Engineers. In the second half, Belyea knocked down 4 of 6 from the field and 2 of 3 from the 3-point arc to help the Engineers earn a second straight victory in the rivalry with a 74-54 decision.
The Rose win cut the Pomeroys’ all-time series lead to 14-7, despite a 25-point performance by SMWC point guard Ja’Breena Gardner.
“People just found me tonight,” Belyea said. “We had a lot of assists . It feels good. It feels good for the seniors to help them get another win.”
Rose-Hulman held the Pomeroys, who came into the contest averaging 84 points-per-game, to 7 of 28 shooting in the first half. Saint Mary-of-the-Woods went without a 3-pointer until Madeline Pea connected at the 9:01 mark of the second half.
The Pomeroys (4-4) had averaged 10 3-pointers through its first seven games.
Engineers’ senior Lauren Meadows, who had 23 against the Pomeroys a year ago, had three steals and finished with 10 points. She was among the multiple players helping to guard the aggressive Gardner.
“We did a lot of scouting on them and our whole goal was to not let them catch the ball wide open on the wing. I think we really executed that part of our gameplan,” Meadows said. “It’s awesome. We have goals and standards and one of them is to beat Saint Mary-of-the-Woods every year, and it feels awesome to have a big part in taking home the trophy two years in a row.”
SMWC coach Deanna Bradley knew they would be facing one of the toughest defenses they had seen this season.
“We did a good job on the defensive end, but the offense killed us,” Bradley said. “We knew we wouldn’t get a lot of good looks. It wasn’t going to be a typical game for us. Rose is a very good ball team. I give them all the credit for this game.”
Rose-Hulman (1-4) scratched and clawed its way to a slight 27-19 edge at halftime despite struggling against the Woods’ zone defense.
The Engineers’ game-winning spurt came after the Pomeroys’ early second-half intensity helped them make it a 36-31 game with 14:32 to go.
Rose-Hulman went on a 13-3 run that included six points by Belyea, as the freshman came up with a couple big jump shots.
The other freshman who came up big for Rose-Hulman was in the post.
Senior center Kelsey Ploof battled some foul trouble, but 6-foot-3 freshman Josie Schmidt contributed with 10 rebounds and six points.
Schmidt’s biggest fan might be Rose-Hulman president James Conwell, who awarded the team the Clabber Girl Trophy after the win. Both Schmidt and Conwell are from the Pittsburgh area.
Coach Jon Prevo was happy with Schmidt and the play of all his posts, who helped the Engineers to a 52-33 edge in rebounding. Forward Gracie Gibbs added nine points, while Ploof chipped in six points and eight rebounds in just 16 minutes.
“Dominating inside play was one of our keys to the game, and it was a complete team effort in getting the job done,” Prevo said.
The victory was the Engineers’ first of the season after playing some talented teams to start the nonconference.
“I thought we finally started playing up to our capabilities in the second half that we had not done all year. We didn’t attack their zone in the first half. Once we started getting it inside, it opened up our perimeter game,” Prevo said.